State under fire for violations in tiger sanctuary
Ashwin Aghor / DNA
Thursday, October 15, 2009 2:04:00 AM
The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has come down heavily on the state government for allowing illegal construction and widening of a road inside Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary by the Balyogi Shree Sadanand Maharaj Ashram Sanstha.
The CEC in a report submitted on September 29 has recommended to the Supreme Court to direct the state to clear all the encroachments in the forest within six months.
The Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG), a city based NGO had filed an application before the CEC against the encroachment and illegal widening and construction of roads in alleged violation of Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and section 29 of the Wildlife Protection Act inside the wildlife sanctuary near Borivli.
The NGO had prayed to take action against the illegal widening of roads inside the sanctuary and restore the original course of the river. Tungareshwar Ashram chairman filed an application before the committee to direct the state government to accept the alternate land in Shahapur taluka of Thane district for the purpose of compensatory aforestation.
The CEC concluded that all the illegal activities of the Ashram have in one way or the other been aided and abetted by the gram panchayat, zilla parishad, PWD, police and forest department.
Ironically, due to Sadanand Baba’s proximity with political leaders and ministers, the state had been considering a proposal for regularisation and withdrew all criminal prosecution against the ashram people on March 25, 1983 and asked to form a trust and get it registered. However, the ministry rejected the proposal on April 26, 2004.